Witness did not think it unusual solicitor was asked to take disputed will at night
Father of nephew who inherited uncle’s farm said they just happened to be passing by solicitor’s home at 8pm
Richard Cooper Jnr who inherited a farm from his uncle Michael Buckley. Photograph: Collins Courts
One of four siblings who have disputed their deceased brother’s will has told the High Court she believes a solicitor got his instructions for the will from another sibling whose son was left the entire 54 acre farm in Wexford.
Teresa Doyle, along with her siblings Joseph, William and Elizabeth Buckley, are suing their nephew Richard Cooper junior over the will concerning a farm in Caim, near Enniscorthy, owned by Michael Buckley, who died of cancer in hospital on March 20th 2011.
The plaintiffs claim the will was made under undue influence when Michael Buckley was not capable of doing so days before his death.
Wexford Circuit Court previously condemned the will and Mr Cooper appealed to the High Court.
On Tuesday, the fourth day of the appeal, Stephen Lanigan-O’Keefe SC, for Mr Cooper, asked Mrs Doyle how did she think that Jason Dunne, the solicitor who made the will, got the details which went into the document.
These included matters such as where Mr Buckley banked and his lack of life insurance or pension.
Ms Doyle said she believed the solicitor got the instructions from her sister Sheila Cooper, Richard’s mother.
She disagreed she wanted the farm to be divided up and sold.
“I am doing this to get justice for Michael”.
She denied the dispute had arisen because she was angry Michael had made a will and was now making sure legal costs would be run up to ensure Richard did not benefit.
Earlier, she told her own counsel Michael Counihan SC that her family and Sheila’s family had been close as they all lived within a short distance of each other in Enniscorthy.
She said Michael first got sick in October 2010 and she was told by him around Christmas that year: “Would you believe she (Sheila) sent down Dick (Sheila’s husband) for me to give the place to Richard?”.
Mrs Doyle said her brother added: “It won’t be happening”.
Asked about how Richard and Michael got on, she said they were “always squabbling” and on one occasion Sheila told her the two men were “at each other’s throats again”.
She took no notice until she heard later that Richard had knocked Michael to the ground.
In his evidence, Richard has strongly denied that claim.
Mrs Doyle said Michael “had no time for the Coopers” even before Sheila married Dick because Michael “knew Dick’s father and their relations were just up the road from us”.
She said there was never any mention of a will until a few days after Michael was buried when Sheila arrived in Teresa’s house and said: “By the way, Richard got the farm”.
When she, Mrs Doyle, expressed surprise, she said Sheila said: “You are making me very angry”.
She added: “This was not the Sheila I knew and I told her to stop shouting at me and I was very upset”.
Mrs Doyle said she believed the will should never have been made because she believed Michael was not capable of doing so.
He said at a family gathering in his home after Michael got sick, Sheila brought up the question of a will.
“I don’t remember her exact words but she said I want Richard to have it and I remember her tapping her finger on the table”.
In relation to an alleged altercation between Richard and Michael, Bobby said Michael called him to the farm and told him Richard had “come down shouting and roaring that he was up to his eyes in debt”.
He said Michael pointed to the ground and said he (Richard) “put me to the ground here the other day”.
Dick Cooper, Sheila’s husband, said he did not think it was unusual for him and his wife to call to a local solicitor’s home to ask him to take the will at 8pm at night. They just happened to be passing by, he said.
When that solicitor found Michael did not have testamentary capacity, Mr Cooper said he called the firm Jason Dunne worked for because the office was just up the street from his workplace. Mr Dunne found Mr Buckley’s condition had improved and he successfully took the will.
Evidence has ended and the case has been adjourned for parties to make legal submissions.